2010-2011 Distinguished Lecture Abstracts

Distributed Cooperation and Adversity: Complexity Trade-Offs

Dr. Alexander A. Shvartsman
Professor and Associate Head Computer Science and Engineering
University of Connecticut

4:10 p.m., Wednesday October 13, 2010
Room 124, Bright Building


The problem of cooperatively performing a collection of tasks in a decentralized setting where the computing medium is subject to undesirable perturbations is one of the fundamental problems in distributed computing, with applications encompassing such important areas as Internet supercomputing, parallel simulation, and multi-agent collaboration. The perturbations in the computing medium are typically due to processor and software failures (benign or malicious), communication breakdowns, and unpredictable delays. To develop efficient solutions for computation problems based on distributed cooperation, it is important to understand efficiency trade-offs characterizing the ability of p processors to cooperate on t tasks in key models of computation in the presence of adversity. In this talk we survey historical and recent results for distributed cooperation roughly grouped along the following topics: (i) fundamental failure-sensitive bounds for distributed cooperation problems for synchronous crash-prone processors, (ii) upper and lower bounds on distributed cooperation in shared-memory models, (iii) bounds on distributed work in message-passing models and on redundant work for processors that may experience prolonged absence of communication.


Alexander Shvartsman is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Connecticut. He received his B.S. from Stevens Institute of Technology in 1979 and a M.S. from Cornell University in 1981, both in Computer Science. Deciding that an academic career was clearly not for him, he went to industry, working at Bell Labs and Digital Equipment Corp., first as an engineer, then as a manager. In 1988 he decided that an industrial career was clearly not for him and he entered the doctoral program at Brown University, earning his Ph.D. in 1992. Subsequently he did his post-doctoral study at MIT, then joined the Computer Science & Engineering faculty at the University Connecticut. His research in distributed and parallel computing, fault tolerance, formal methods, and electronic voting has been funded by numerous grants, including the NSF Career Award. Alex authored over 125 research papers and two books. He chaired and served on program committees of many conferences in distributed computing. He currently also directs the UConn Center for Voting Technology Research, nationally recognized for leadership work in integrity of electronic voting systems. Lastly, he is a Vigneron d'Honneur of Jurade de Saint-Emilion.

Faculty Contact: Dr. Jennifer Welch

Memory Overcommitment for Cloud Environments

Dr. Dilma Da Silva
RSM & Manager
Advanced Operating Systems
Thomas J. Watson Research Center, NY

4:10 p.m., Wednesday November 3, 2010
Room 124, Bright Building


Cloud Computing has been receiving a lot of attention from the computing community. It is perceived by some as the "IT fad of the moment" and by others as a revolutionary approach to deliver computing services. Either way, the world of Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service introduces interesting resource management challenges. In this talk we will describe Ginkgo, an automated, application-driven memory overcommitment framework for cloud computing.


Dilma da Silva is a researcher at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, in New York. She manages the Advanced Operating Systems group. She received her Ph.D in Computer Science from Georgia Tech in 1997. Prior to joining IBM, she was an Assistant Professor at University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her research in operating systems addresses the need for scalable and customizable system software, and she is currently focusing on cloud computing. She has published more than 60 technical papers. Dilma is a member of the board of CRA-W (Computer Research Association's Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research) and a co-founder of the Latinas in Computing group. She has been a member of the board of directors of the Brazilian Computer Society.

CSCE 681 Faculty Contact: Dr. Nancy Amato

The CompCert formally verified compiler

Video of Dr. Leroy's presentation

Dr. Xavier Leroy
Senior Research Scientist and
Team Leader of Project Gallium
The French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA)

4:10 p.m., Monday January 24, 2011
Room 124, Bright Building


Are compilers trustworthy? We all expect compilers to be semantically transparent: the generated code should behave as prescribed by the semantics of the source program. Yet, compilers are complicated pieces of software and often contain bugs, some of which causing wrong executables to be silently produced from correct source programs. This is a minor annoyance for ordinary software, but a valid source of concern for critical software. In particular, the possibility of miscompilation dramatically weakens the guarantees that can be obtained by formal verification of programs at the source level (model checking, static analysis, full program proof).

In this talk, I will give an overview of the CompCert project: the development and machine-assisted correctness proof of a realistic compiler for a large subset of the C language. Using the Coq proof assistant both as a prover and a programming language, we have obtained a compiler usable for critical embedded software that is proved (with mathematical certainty) never to miscompile. After a general introduction to compiler verification, the talk will outline some of the techniques involved in one pass of the compiler (register allocation), then discuss several open issues in this line of work.


Dr. Xavier Leroy is a senior research scientist at INRIA near Paris, where he leads the Gallium research team. He received his Ph.D. from University of Paris in 1992, has published about 50 research papers, and received the 2007 Monpetit prize of the French Academy of Sciences. His work focuses on programming languages and systems and their interface with formal verification of software for safety and security. He is the architect and lead author of the Objective Caml functional programming language and of its implementation. He also worked on language-based security, with applications to smart cards. His current research focuses on machine-checked formalization of programming language semantics and its application to the formal verification of programming tools such as compilers and verification tools such as static analyzers and program provers.

CSCE 681 Faculty Contact: Dr. Gabriel Dos Reis

Power to the People: Robots and Representational Democracy

Video of Dr. Goldberg's presentation

Dr. Ken Goldberg
The Craigslist Distinguished Professor of New Media
The University of California at Berkeley

4:10 p.m., Wednesday February 23, 2011
Room 124, Bright Building


My students and I are studying how robots and social networks can be used to improve decision-making. In 1994, we connected the first robot to the Internet; tens of thousands of people operated it remotely 24 hours a day for nine years. I will describe a series of networked robot systems that we have developed for applications ranging from art to games to field biology. I'll also present Opinion Space, a new social media technology designed to help communities exchange ideas and suggestions about the issues and policies they care about. Opinion Space is being used by the U.S. Department of State and incorporates techniques from deliberative polling, collaborative filtering, and multidimensional visualization.


Ken Goldberg is an artist and Professor of IEOR and EECS in the College of Engineering and the School of Information. He is an IEEE Fellow and co-Founder of the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM). He has published over 150 research papers, edited four books, and served two terms as Vice President of Technical Activities for the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. His award-winning artwork has been exhibited worldwide at venues such as Ars Electronica, ZKM, Pompidou Center, ICC, Kwangju Biennale, Artists Space, The Kitchen, and the Whitney Museum.

CSCE 681 Faculty Contact: Dr. Nancy Amato

Interactive Sound Rendering

Video of Dr. Manocha's presentation

Dr. Dinesh Manocha
Phi Delta Theta/Matthew Mason Distinguished Professor
Department of Computer Science
University of N. Carolina, Chapel Hill

4:10 p.m., Monday April 18, 2011
Room 124, Bright Building


Extending the frontier of visual computing, sound rendering utilizes sound to communicate information to a user and offers an alternative means of visualization. By harnessing the sense of hearing, audio rendering can further enhance a user's experience in a multimodal virtual world and is required for immersive environments, computer games, simulation, training and designing next generation human-computer interfaces.

In this talk, we will give an overview of our recent work on sound synthesis and sound propagation. These include generating realistic physically-based sounds from rigid body dynamics simulations and liquid sounds based on bubble resonance and coupling with fluid simulators. We also describe new and fast algorithms for sound propagation based on improved numerical techniques and fast geometric sound propagation. Moreover, we demonstrate that many recent developments in interactive visual rendering can be applied to sound rendering. Our algorithms improve the state of the art in sound propagation by almost 1-2 orders of magnitude and we demonstrate that it is possible to perform interactive propagation in complex, dynamic environments by utilizing the computational capabilities of multi-core CPUs and many-core GPUs. We will also show some preliminary results on the design of next-generation musical instruments using multi-touch interfaces.

Joint work with faculty and students of GAMMA group at UNC Chapel Hill.


Dinesh Manocha is currently the Phi Delta Theta/Mason Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of California at Berkeley 1992. He has received Junior Faculty Award, Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, NSF Career Award, Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, Honda Research Initiation Award, Hettleman Prize for Scholarly Achievement. Along with his students, Manocha has also received 12 best paper & panel awards at the leading conferences on graphics, geometric modeling, visualization, multimedia and high-performance computing. He is a Fellow of ACM and AAAS.

Manocha has published more than 300 papers in the leading conferences and journals on computer graphics, geometric computing, robotics, and scientific computing. He has also served as a program committee member and program chair for more than 75 conferences in these areas, and editorial boards of many leading journals. Some of the software systems related to collision detection, GPU-based algorithms and geometric computing developed by his group have been downloaded by more than 100,000 users and are widely used in the industry. He has supervised 18 Ph.D. dissertations.

CSCE 681 Faculty Contact: Dr. Scott Schaefer